Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Media release 12.07.2005

A policy brief on Forest for the New Millennium provides recommendations on how to find a sustainable balance between world forests, society and the environment

Forests, households, enterprises and the environment depend on each other in their mutual interrelationships. Forests are increasingly often perceived as part of the human and natural landscape, where different elements adjust themselves to coexist. The ways in which forests are exploited and how the benefits are distributed have changed, and will still change, over time.

According to the World Bank, almost one third of the people in the world (1,600 million) depend on forests in one way or another. Forests and various forest products, especially in rural areas, comprise a crucially important source of work and income – both in the developed and developing countries. The products of forests and timber assist in achieving the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, in reducing poverty and hunger. Forests also sustain a majority of the biodiversity of the world. In the long run forests will play a critical role in, for example, agricultural fertility both in densely populated areas and in agriculturally degraded areas.

The report belongs to the special project on World Forests, Society and Environment operating under the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) since 2002. In the project a multidisciplinary approach was employed to study the impact of human and economic values and changes in these values on forests and their use. Nearly two hundred specialists of different fields from all continents participated in the study.

Five new organizations have later joined the global research network initiated by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Finnish Forest Research Institute, the European Forest Institute (EFI) and the United Nations University (UNU). The new members are Costa Rican CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), Indonesian CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research), French CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le developpement), Chinese INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan) and Canadian NRCan (Natural Resources Canada).

The policy brief on Forests for the New Millennium is available in three language versions (english, french and spanish) on the www pages of IUFRO.

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